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The Clyde from the Source to the Sea
Chapter V. Buildings


The Cathedral was founded in 1123, lurinor the reffin of David I., and was dedicated to St. Mungo. It is situated on the higher part of the city at the head of High Street, and just above the banks of the Molendinar stream, where its patron saint established his humble cell thirteen centuries ago. The Cathedral, fortunately surviving the destruction of similar buildings about the time of the Reformation, is still an object of interest to visitors and of pride to the inhabitants for its pure and early English style of architecture, its crypt almost unique in its completeness and extent, and, although a modern decoration, its stained-glass windows are of such high-class work and artistic design as to be quite in harmony with the venerable structure, whose gray and sombre colouring by the hand of Time they serve to brighten with their rich and many-coloured lights.

Sir Walter Scott gives us in Rob Roy a picture of the Cathedral and its surroundings as they appeared when “The Mac Gregor” paid his occasional visits to Glasgow: “ Standing in a populous and considerable town, this ancient and massive pile has the appearance of the most sequestered solitude. High walls divide it from the buildings of the city on one side; on the other it is bounded by a ravine, at the bottom of which, and invisible to the eye, murmurs a wandering rivulet, adding by its gentle noise to the imposing solemnity of the scene.”

At one time the building was divided as follows:—

The Choir, Outer Church, Inner High Church, and Vaulted Cemetery. Worship was conducted on Sundays in the Outer Church and the Inner High Church, and for a time in what was called the Vaulted Cemetery or Crypt; and it is to this lower sanctuary that we are conducted in the novel referred to, which is described as “an extensive range of low-browed, dark, and twilight vaults,” in which a numerous congregation had assembled, and where the hero of the story hears the whisper, “You arc in danger in this place; meet me to-night on the Brigg at twelve prececsely;” and giving heed to this warning he meets Bob Boy, as “the hour of twelve o’clock swung its summons over the city from the belfry of the Metropolitan Church of St. Mungo, and was answered and vouched by all the others like dutiful diocesans.”

The College buildings stood in High Street, but like many other things they also have had to give way to the changes which constantly occur in an ever-growing and widening industrial community. Where once the learned professor and aspiring student met in yearly session and devoted themselves to the advancement of learninu' and the cultivation of the mind, there is now little remaining to mark the site of their former abodes and class-rooms. The railway passes through them, and the snort of the iron-horse and his warning whistle echo through the colonnades of the railway-station which has taken their place. But is it not a fitting successor to the old halls and class-rooms where James Watt first made his immortal discovery, which gave the old and inefficient steam-engine a renewed vitality? As we stand 011 the platform, we see the locomotive with its train behind, the fire burning brightly and the steam up to its required pressure, with the electric light brilliantly showing from the carriage roofs, switched off and on automatically as the train dives out and in the tunnels driven beneath the busy streets. We feel that this is the outcome of much that has been lectured and experimented upon in the classroom and laboratory of the old buildings. And the names of Black, Watt, Rankin el and Thomson occur to us as workers in the field of science, whose investigations in this very place have helped to bring about these wonderful changes.

The University has now moved west; all modern life seems to tend westward, and since the time of Columbus we have pushed still further out into the new fields opening to the enterprising on the other side of the Atlantic. The new site is much more prominent than the original one in the High Street, yet no doubt in the early days the old buildings would be quite as well marked out, as the city was smaller and distances were not then reckoned by miles. Various recent endowments by wealthy citizens and others have contributed to the completion of the present buildings on Gilmourhill, and to the carrying on more completely the work of the various chairs. And not only have these benefactions resulted in the erection of the handsome modern structure, but also in the re-erecting of the old gateway, with the veritable stones cut by and bearing the chisel marks of the old builders a couple of centuries ago, and which once more throws its shadow over the student and visitor as they pass and repass to class-room and court, as in the days of old. We can also still pass up and down the old stone stairway with its guardian lion and unicorn, which was originally erected in the old college so far back as 1090.

George’s Square, at one time a dismal, railed-in place, is now opened out to the public, and contains a number of monuments to distinguished names, combining royalty, war, science, literature, &c. Sir Walter Scott from his lofty pedestal looks abroad over the city, whose old-fashioned life and incidents he has so well portrayed. Sir John Moore, whose death at Corunna is so dramatically described in the well-known lines:

“We buried him darkly;—at dead of night,
The sods with our bayonets turning;
By the struggling moon-beams’ misty light,
And the lantern dimly burning.”

Sir Colin Campbell, posed alert, and intense with readiness for action. Graham, the master of the mint, and Watt in scientific contemplation, Campbell and Burns, Livingstone and Peel, are all here; the unchanging bronze perpetuating by the magic skill of the sculptor the personal characteristics of each, while the busy city life goes on, and we hear arising from the constant murmur of the streets something like this:

“For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.”

Other statues adorn the city, such as that of the Duke of Wellington in front of the Exchange, where, mounted on his faithful charger, the “hero of a hundred fights” appears to be directing the movement of his troops on the battle-fields, depicted on the panels below.

Another and an older equestrian statue stands at the Cross, viz.: that of King William III., and of which the late Rev. Norman Macleod tells the following story:—

“The traveller who visits Glasgow and takes the trouble of walkinq- along the Trongate, which would be a fine street in any city, will notice near the ‘Cross,’ at its eastern extremity, an equestrian statue of no mean value as a work of art, and he will also discern two old guns protruding their small rusty muzzles above the uround at its base. Those "uns blazed at the battle of the Boyne, and they now look up to King William III., who commanded them there. Strange to say, this is the only statue in Scotland or England erected to him of ‘ immortal memory.’ A Latin inscription on the base of the statue inform us, among other things, that it was erected in 1734 by ‘Jacobus Macrae, Gubernator Madrasii.’ We may add that this work of art was the only one of the kind known for more than a century to the peasantry of the West Highlands. The first object on reaching Glasgow which the Highlander went to see was the 'black horse;’ and the first question asked of him when he returned home, by those who wished to hear his news, was, 'Have you seen the black horse?’”

A number of fine old mansion-houses built by the mercantile aristocracy of the last century at one time adorned the city, but are now mostly pulled down or incorporated with new buildings. One of these is interesting from the fact that it is built into the front part of the Exchange in Queen Street. This mansion-house was known as the Lain,straw Mansion; afterwards The Royal Bank used the upper or drawing-room floor for its business, and finally, when the Royal Exchange was built in 1829, the old building was preserved, and the new building, with its fine row of Corinthian columns, spread out over the old garden ground behind.

The new Municipal Buildings in George Square, approaching completion, constitute an elaborate and massive pile, in which the work of the various trusts connected with the municipality can he carried out, and the magisterial functions of the representatives of the city can have freer scope in the Council Chamber. The foundation-stone was laid on (5th October, 18S3J with all the masonic honours, and Glasgow kept high holiday in honour of the event, the various trades turning out in their thousands, as the Glasgow tradesmen love to do on any great occasion, and carrying on for the edification of their fellow-citizens their various crafts; working away on stages carried by lorries, drawn by gaily-caparisoned horses. This great procession, reckoned at about 30,000 strong, headed by the carters mounted on their splendid Clydesdales, specially decorated for the occasion, made a tour of the city, and finally converged on the square.

The building is in the Italian Renaissance style, and occupies a square of about 75 yards on the side, thus covering an area of about 5600 square yards. There are several stories, the main walls reaching to a height of 75 feet, having a central tower rising to a height of 242 feet, of which 225 feet is of masonry, terminated with 17 feet of ornamental gilded metal work. Besides the Council Chamber and various offices a large banqueting hall is one of the features, measuring 110 feet in length by 50 feet wide; the height of this hall is 50 feet.

In modern building's Glasgow can boast of having the tallest chimney-stalks in the world. The great stalk at Messrs. Tennant’s St. Rollox Chemical Works is 455\ feet in height from foundation to top, or 4351 feet aboveground. Its external diameter at base on ground-line is 40 feet, with a thickness of 2 feet 74 inches; at top its external diameter is 13 feet G inches, with a thickness of 1 foot 2 inches. The chimney has a slightly-curved batter or rate of variation in width.

The chimney at Messrs. Townsend’s Chemical Works, built 1857, is 4G8 feet high, of which 454 feet is aboveground. An extra height of ornamental iron work extends for 20 feet above the cope. The outside diameter at surface of ground is 32 feet, and at top 12 feet 8 inches; the thickness varies from 7 bricks at base to 11 brick at top. The chimney has a straightbatter.

This great stalk shortly after being finished was subjected to a severe storm which broke over Glasgow, and in consequence of the immense pressure of wind upon such a great surface it was visibly bent over. It became a question how to deal with it under such conditions, when finally a simple, and, as the result proved, an effective remedy was suggested, viz. that of sawing into the joints on the convex side. This was done, and the great chimney gradually settled back to its originally perpendicular position.

Up to within a few years ago these great stalks were, with one or two exceptions (the great spires at Vienna and Strasburg, and the Great Pyramid), the highest buildings in the world; but the Americans can now claim to possess a building which much exceeds previous structures, viz. the Washington Monument at Washington.

This is an obelisk 555 feet high, built of beautiful white marble, and which, in the clear air of that city, can be seen a long distance off.


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